by Gretchen Lindell, EdM, MammaWorks
Find Gretchen on Google+
Did you recently get promoted to a management role? Or is your team just not trusting you and not buying into your vision. Well, I’m here to help. For many years, I was the dean of a small local business college. I’ve since left that position to pursue other adventures (another post for another day). As a dean, I learned many management lessons in a very short period of time. To be clear, I studied to be an educator, not a manager. I was 32 when I took the position and also a first-time mom.
When I took the position of dean, I was surprised very quickly with the complexity of the position. As the dean, it was my job to manage all of the college’s faculty, to oversee the curriculum and its development, to oversee student success, and to generally oversee other issues as necessary. I am someone who is driven for success; so, learning management became my top priority!
Through observation, experience (mainly, by making huge mistakes), discussions with business professionals, podcasts, books, and any other materials I could get my hands on, I came up with these 5 strategies for success as a manager. Incidentally, these management techniques can be used with great results in any industry.
1. Be Less Busy.
I know that you can’t really be less busy. You are a top person in your organization, and they are all counting on you to get your work done. BUT, believe it or not, everyone is busy. Think back to every job that you ever had (that work-study job in college doesn’t count). Do you ever remember having a job where you weren’t busy?
Do you remember how it felt approaching your boss when he or she seemed overwhelmed? It didn’t feel great, did it? You probably didn’t feel right interrupting your boss, because surely he or she was invested in something WAY more important than what you were working on.
When you when you present yourself as busy to your employees all the time, you are communicating that you are too busy to support them. If you are looking for your team to be productive, this is a huge problem. Be approachable and let your people know that you are there to help them whenever they need it. Any issue that was important enough for them to seek you out is worth your attention.
A key factor to this tip is making sure you never tell anyone how busy you truly are. Whenever someone asks you if you are busy, say, “No, come on in, let’s chat.” Stop what you are doing and focus on the needs of your employee in the moment. (How do you feel when someone says they can talk, but they are fidgeting around with their phone or filling out paperwork–are you truly being heard?) For people to feel truly heard, they need your undivided attention.
You never know when one of your team members is contemplating something much bigger than what they present to you in a hurried moment.
Take some time, look them in the face, and listen to what they have to say.
Remember learning in school the difference between hearing and listening to people? Well, a great manager listens to his or her team. Why won’t a project work? Who could do a task better? When is the right time to launch that new product/program? Your employees were hired for a reason, each one of them poses skills and attributes that you will never be graced with. You can harness those gifts and push your productivity ahead, by giving them a moment to share their thoughts and ideas with you.
Do you know what those skills and attributes are for your team? If not, why not? That is your job! Find out what those gifts are and use them to make your team stronger and more effective. (Think about it this way, if you were coaching softball and you had a player who could hit home runs consistently, no matter how the ball was thrown, would you tell her to bunt at every at bat? Of course not! You’d tell her to swing away.) Let your team show you their gifts.)
Be warned, those who feel threatened by other people’s successes don’t deserve to be leaders. Don’t let your own self consciousness stop you from listening to your team. When a team trusts you, they will have your back!
You have your own gifts, that’s why you are where you are. Use those gifts to shine when it’s important: be prepared.
3. Be Prepared.
If you want to get a job, do your part to make sure it gets there. Don’t just rely on your people to get it done. Being a manager means that you HAVE to know what is going on at all times. Go to your meetings prepared to share thoughts with your employees. Also, remember to update them on new policies, procedures, and legislation. Your team is counting on you to be a contributing factor to the success of a project.
When your team sees you hard at work and invested in a project, they will follow suit. Very often, managers fail to demonstrate how important a project actually is and it falls between the cracks. (I mean seriously, if someone were to give me a project and then never check on its progress. I may not take it seriously and would probably put it on the back burner…forever…)
When my boss checks in often with me, I know a project is important, so I act accordingly. I model the behavior I want to see.
4. Model The Behavior.
Why should your employees show up on time, if you are constantly strolling in ten minutes late with a latte in your hand? Here’s a hard-hitting truth: You are expendable, and you are not special. GET OVER IT! If you want your people to act a certain way, model the behavior.
Don’t like them taking long lunch breaks? Then you get your butt back to work on time. Not happy with the unprofessional talks in the lunch room? Then make sure you are not engaging in the trash talking too. Don’t be afraid to let your team know what is acceptable and what is not. If one of your employees says something that is offensive in front of you. Let him or her know. BUT, do it behind a closed door. NO ONE likes to be criticized in front of others. NO ONE!
Model the behavior and let your team know that you are there to support them. If you plan a professional development activity, make sure that you are there and that you participate in the activity. No one from the outside is going to “fix” your team. A consultant can help you, but you have to actively participate for the development to work.
One more thing, if there is a dress code in your workplace, follow it. No, even better, dress even more professionally than the code. Everyone would love to wear flip flops to work, but if its not part of the dress code, it’s not appropriate to wear to the office (even on the days you are technically working from home, but you stroll in to drop off some paperwork).
Finally, take the time to let your team get some accolades too.
5. Let Them Shine.
Nothing undermines your success like hogging all of the spotlight. Great leaders know to give credit where credit is due. Humility goes a long way toward gaining the trust of others. I know exactly how you feel when a long project is complete. You want to yell, “Yes, I did it,” from the rooftops! But, the truth is, you and your team completed the project. It was probably their good ideas and initiative that got the ball rolling and kept it in motion.
Let them know you appreciate them, by “talking them up” to your supervisor. Each one of your team members has professional hopes and aspirations. Help to lift them up, so they are one step closer to achieving those dreams. If you have a chance publicly to thank your team for their work and talents, do so…Over, and over, and over again!
I like to say that management is not rocket science. It’s actually very much common sense. The trick is actually putting these ideas into practice.
Seriously, which boss would you trust? The one who is super busy; who has no time for you or your ideas; who is always late; who is never prepared; and who takes all the credit? Or the one who has time for your thoughts and ideas; who comes in early and leaves late; who is always prepared; and who graciously thanks you when you contribute your gifts to the team? It’s a no brainer, right? Good luck on your climb to the top.
Please let me know if you have any tips for me or topics you would like me to address.
(I will always have time for you!) 😉
Check Out These Books:
Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times
The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary